By Dr. Mercola
Alzheimer's disease, a severe form of dementia, now affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans,1 and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. According to one shocking projection, Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 25 percent of American adults in the next 20 years, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
Such predictions are particularly distressing in light of the fact that Alzheimer's is a disease predicated on lifestyle, especially your diet. Hidden factors such as toxic exposures can also play a distinct role.
According to the featured article in the Los Angeles Times,2 researchers have linked DDT exposure to the development of Alzheimer's disease later on in life.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology,3 found that patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's had dramatically higher levels of the DDT metabolite DDE in their blood—four times higher, in fact—compared to people of similar age who do not have the disease. Lead author Jason Richardson told the LA Times:
"DDE can last in the body for a number of years. When you are looking at DDE levels, it is basically a snapshot of a person's lifetime exposure to DDT as well as DDE in the environment...
Over 80 percent of us have measurable levels of DDE in our blood; that is a reality. We get it from legacy contamination or food that comes from countries using DDT."
The Long-Term Ramifications of Agricultural Chemicals on Human Health
The use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) began during the second half of World War II, when it was liberally sprayed to control diseases such as malaria and typhus. Once the war was over, it began being used as an agricultural pesticide. Monsanto was one of more than a dozen companies that manufactured the chemical.
In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson wrote the groundbreaking book Silent Spring, in which she warned of the devastating environmental impacts of DDT, suggesting the chemical may also have harmful effects on human health.
She rightfully questioned the logic and sanity of using such vast amounts of a chemical without knowing much about its ecological and human health impact. The public outcry that resulted from her book eventually led to DDT being banned for agricultural use in the US in 1972.
Fast-forward just over 40 years, and we're now seeing the effects of that DDT exposure. Interestingly, several studies4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 have linked increased DDT and/or DDE levels to diabetes as well.
The suggestion that DDT exposure may contribute to diabetes and/or such a devastating disease as Alzheimer's—decades after exposure—should be a worldwide wake-up call for what the ramifications of glyphosate might be.
Glyphosate (Roundup) was approved in 1974 in the US,10 and has been widely and aggressively used since then. (It didn't gain EU-wide approval until 2002.) As with DDT, we're now seeing research linking glyphosate exposure to dramatic jumps in disease rates, such as autism for example, as well as food allergies and digestive problems.
The difference is that the effects are showing far sooner, and appear more evidently linked than in the case of DDT. Personally, I believe we're in for a world of hurt in coming decades, as the full effects of glyphosate toxicity become evident. In my view, there's simply no time to waste when it comes to ending the reckless use of glyphosate.
Glyphosate—A Thoroughly Underestimated Poison That May Be WORSE Than DDT
According to Dr. Don Huber, an expert in an area of science that relates to the toxicity of genetically engineered (GE) foods, glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide—is actually FAR worse than DDT!
It's worth noting that genetically engineered (GE) crops are far more contaminated with glyphosate than conventional crops, courtesy of the fact that they're engineered to withstand extremely high levels of Roundup without perishing along with the weed. Glyphosate contamination is a major part of the overall hazards of GE foods, as the chemical cannot be washed off—it is incorporated into every cell of the plant.
Strange as it may sound, when asked which toxin he would prefer to use if he had to make a choice between two evils, Dr. Huber says he'd actually take DDT over glyphosate!
"A lot of these materials can have a very beneficial use. I'm certainly not anti-chemical. But we have to use some common sense. What we have with glyphosate is the most abused chemical we have ever had in the history of man," he said in a previous interview.
"…When future historians write about our time, they're not going to write about the tons of chemicals that we did or didn't apply. When it comes to glyphosate, they're going to write about our willingness to sacrifice our children and jeopardize our existence, while threatening and jeopardizing the very basis of our existence; the sustainability of our agriculture…
It doesn't mean that it's not reversible… But it means that we need to recognize what the concerns are, what's happening, and then we need to change."
The Many Health Hazards of Glyphosate
As stated by Dr. Huber, we jumped in without the basic understanding of what products like DDT and glyphosate do—beyond their obvious benefits of killing pests—and this was done to support the bottom line of a few large companies, such as Monsanto.
The public's appreciation of the toxicity of glyphosate is still rather limited, and the fact that Monsanto marketed Roundup as "environmentally friendly" and "biodegradable" has undoubtedly had quite a bit to do with this general lack of insight. (In 2009, a French court upheld two earlier convictions against Monsanto for false advertising of Roundup.) Glyphosate is actually, in many ways, similar to DDT, which is also known to cause reproductive problems and birth defects11 among other things. Like DDT, glyphosate has also been identified as a likely causative factor in fertility problems and birth defects. Furthermore, research shows that glyphosate:
|Decimates beneficial microorganisms in the soil essential for proper plant function and high-quality nutrition
||Causes extreme disruption of your gut microbes' function and lifecycle; preferentially affecting beneficial bacteria, while promoting the growth of pathogens in your intestines|
|Chelates critical microminerals, preventing them from being utilized by the plant (leading to nutrient-deficient food)
||Inhibits enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances, which appears to be an overlooked component of glyphosate's toxicity to mammals. By limiting the ability of these enzymes to detoxify foreign chemical compounds, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of those chemicals and environmental toxins you may be exposed to|
|Promotes the proliferation of disease-causing pathogens in soil
||Is toxic to water fleas at extraordinarily low levels, well within the levels expected to be found in the environment. These findings throw serious doubt on glyphosate's safety|
|Predisposes cattle to lethal botulism
||Is toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications|
The Rise in Autism Perfectly Matches Use of Glyphosate
Former US Navy staff scientist Dr. Nancy Swanson, Ph.D. has meticulously collected statistics on glyphosate usage and various diseases and conditions, including autism, the results of which are shown in the graphic below. It's hard to imagine a more perfect match-up between the rise in glyphosate usage and incidence of autism.
You can access her published articles and reports on Sustainable Pulse,12 a European website dedicated to exposing the hazards of genetically engineered foods. According to Dr. Swanson:
"Prevalence and incidence data show correlations between diseases of the organs and the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the food supply, along with the increase in glyphosate-based herbicide applications. More and more studies have revealed carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting effects of Roundup at lower doses than those authorized for residues found in Genetically Modified Organisms."
"The endocrine disrupting properties of glyphosate can lead to reproductive problems: infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and sexual development. Fetuses, infants and children are especially susceptible because they are continually experiencing growth and hormonal changes. For optimal growth and development, it is crucial that their hormonal system is functioning properly.
The endocrine disrupting properties also lead to neurological disorders (learning disabilities (LD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism, dementia, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Those most susceptible are children and the elderly."
15-Minute At-Home Alzheimer's Test Goes Viral
There's no doubt that Alzheimer's disease is fast becoming a concern on many people's minds. A 15-minute at-home test to assess your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences,13 immediately went viral on the web. As reported by Forbes:14
"Titled the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination test, or SAGE, and developed by Douglas Scharre, M.D., of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, it's a surprisingly simple 12-question pen-and-paper questionnaire. While participants in the study took a supervised test, it can be taken at home.
Scharre and colleagues validated the test by giving it to 1,047 people over 50 in community settings. Results showed 28 percent had signs of cognitive decline they were unaware of... The test can be used both as a routine screening tool and by those already diagnosed with Alzheimer's or cognitive decline to monitor their condition."
If you want to try it out for yourself, you can download the SAGE test from the Ohio State University's website.15 Test questions include:
- Naming certain items shown in picture form
- Explaining how two items are alike
- Simple financial or math questions
- Memorization assignments
- Copying simple geometric drawings
- Matching numbers to letters
According to Dr. Scharre, this simple test correlates very well to more comprehensive cognitive tests, and is an excellent way to get an early assessment of your cognitive function. If taken at intervals over time, it can also serve as an early warning, if your scores begin to decline.
Prevention Is FAR Easier and More Effective Than Treatment After Onset
It's important to realize that Alzheimer's is a disease driven by poor lifestyle choices and the toxic buildup that so often go along with such choices. I firmly believe that your diet is the most important factor of all. Not only from a nutritional standpoint, but also from the standpoint of chemical exposure. This warning applies not just for the prevention of Alzheimer's—I believe we are headed toward a widespread health calamity of absolutely enormous proportions, courtesy of the overuse of glyphosate, which researchers now believe may be a primary driver of virtually all chronic disease!
In terms of recommended dietary changes, avoiding processed foods is a foundational underpinning of good health, made even more important now that most processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients (primarily corn, soy, sugar beet, and all the derivatives thereof). Replacing non-vegetable carbohydrates with higher amounts of healthful fats and moderate amounts of high-quality protein is also at the very top of my list for chronic disease prevention.
I recently discussed a wide array of prevention strategies for Alzheimer's in my article "Vitamin E May Offer Benefits for Patients with Alzheimer's Disease," so for more details about how you can protect yourself against this deadly disease, please refer to that article.
It's really astounding to consider the health tragedies we may be facing in the coming decades, all in the name of efficiency and scientific progress. My strong recommendation is to do everything in your power to avoid such a fate, and to protect your children from it to the best of your ability. While difficult, it's not impossible. But you do need to make food a priority in your life, and take proactive measures to promote the growing of organic foods. Besides buying organic, you can also go a step further and grow your own food. I also encourage you to take a firm stance for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, which tend to carry the highest health risks, whether known or presently unknown.
Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day
Remember, the food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State—to prevent you from knowing what's in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.
As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.
If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:
For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.